I heard a pastor say the people building the Tower of Babel were trying to save themselves. They were determined to be independent (rather than dependent on God) and, in doing so, messed with the natural order of things. Our culture happens to celebrate independence and boot-strapping, but God doesn’t. When these people tried to get what they needed without going to God, it was rebellion.

Rebellion is such a strong word, implying deliberate refusal to cooperate. Like a tiny foot stomped in defiance or a shattering scream after you’ve asked a child to use their inside voice. How do I act like those ancient builders? When I mess up, do I let God’s grace save me, or do I grovel for a couple hours or days before I let myself off the hook? Do I imagine I can meet Him halfway? I know He’ll forgive me, but I can’t be happy right after I make a mistake, can I?

We should certainly try to make things right, but punishing ourselves, even a little bit, smacks of efforts to pay our way. It’s hard to accept a free gift, but we insult Jesus’ sacrifice when we act like we can meet Him in the middle. I admit it would feel good to have something to contribute, but we don’t. It’s important for us to accept reality: we are helpless and our hope is Jesus.

Punishing ourselves, even a little bit, smacks of efforts to pay our way.

Knowing that, the mistakes we make don’t have to take us out of commission for periods of beating ourselves up or proving how sick we are about it. We can pick up and keep going because Jesus has given us grace. In Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian watched as his guilt burden roll down the hill. Let’s not walk like we’re still carrying our burdens around.

Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. John 8:36